There has been a significant decline in the number of pupils regularly missing lessons, according to the latest government figures.
During the 2013-14 academic year, 176,850 fewer pupils persistently missed school compared with 2009-10. The fall, from 439,105 to 262,255, means this figure is now at the lowest level since comparable records began.
There was a steep decline in the number of school days lost to absence - 10.1 million fewer in 2013-14 than in 2009-10, taking the total amount to 35.7 million.
According to the government, the trend is partly the result of reforms introduced to ensure headteachers can grant leave from school in exceptional circumstances only.
This change to the law means the number of pupils missing lessons for holidays has dropped by almost a third since last year. Some 2.5 million school days were lost to term-time holidays, compared with 3.3 million in the previous 12 months.
School reform minister Nick Gibb said: "Our plan for education is getting more young people than ever before back in class, helping thousands more to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.
"Missing lessons can be hugely damaging to a pupil’s education - but today's figures show more pupils than ever before are getting the best preparation for life in modern Britain."
Persistent absence - defined as missing 15 per cent or more of school time - can have a severely detrimental effect on a child's prospects. Such a period of absence would involve missing around 18 months of lesson time.
Mr Gibb added that those in teaching jobs have also benefited from the government's reforms, as they will be increasingly confident in their pupils' attendance and behaviour.
In October 2011, the coalition cut the threshold by which absence is defined as persistent from 20 per cent to 15 per cent, meaning schools are now held to a higher standard in performance tables.
Posted by Tim Colman